Can plants grow in the Gowanus Canal?

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The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is one of the most polluted bodies of water around, but now it's playing host to a new environmental experiment that just may change our experience of waterways around the world.

Out of this putrid water, a small ecosystem is taking hold in the form of a small floating island of plants called GrowOnUs, designed by Diana Balmori and her team at Balmori Associates.

In fact, this mini landscape is serving as a laboratory, testing a range of variables, including a variety of plants and water conditions to determine how plants can thrive in Gowanus conditions. And beyond the survivability of plants in the water, Balmori is also finding that the plants are giving back to their environment, with some varieties cleaning the water itself.

The Balmori team plans to observe this floating landscape for three years, and hopes to translate its findings in to large, floating public gardens, with the buoyant quality of the landscapes making them, transportable from neighborhood to neighborhood. For now, though, Balmori is monitoring this garden very carefully.